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WhyNotGradSchool

Can you leave a program for another before the semester beings?

Question

I accepted admission to school A, gave a down payment of $200.00 and signed their acceptance form, last week. Yesterday morning I get an e-mail from school B, where I'd rather go, saying they might have funding for me. Two professors can support a doctoral student in their lab and to contact them via e-mail. I e-mailed them yesterday to talk about their research and set up a meeting.

Can I switch universities without any legal issues? School A is offering partial funding. Not sure if school B will be full or partial.

 

If you need more details please ask, I might be forgetting something.

 

 

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4 answers to this question

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1 hour ago, WhyNotGradSchool said:

Can I switch universities without any legal issues? School A is offering partial funding. Not sure if school B will be full or partial.

 

 

That form you signed is a binding legal contract. It protects both you and the school. Having said that, I don't believe any university would want to force a student to come there because it would not be a healthy situation for all involved. You do, however, need to write a formal letter to the department chair, copying the DGS and perhaps the dean of the graduate school. They need to respond similarly in order to void the contract. Just remember academia is a small world, if you plan on teaching, and professors have friends everywhere. Why don't you talk to your advisor about this?

Edited by cowgirlsdontcry

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18 minutes ago, cowgirlsdontcry said:

That form you signed is a binding legal contract. It protects both you and the school. Having said that, I don't believe any university would want to force a student to come there because it would not be a healthy situation for all involved. You do, however, need to write a formal letter to the department chair, copying the DGS and perhaps the dean of the graduate school. They need to respond similarly in order to void the contract. Just remember academia is a small world, if you plan on teaching, and professors have friends everywhere. Why don't you talk to your advisor about this?

Orly? :huh: Can you enlighten us on what makes this a "binding legal contract?"

OP: If School B, is on this list (CGS Resolution), School B should request that you present them with a letter from School A that says you are released from your previously accepted offer. Ask for the release. They will grant it. It won't be a big deal. A.

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All states, except Louisiana, operate under common law and equity. The basic elements of a contract are mutual assent, consideration, capacity, and legality. In some states, the element of consideration can be satisfied by a valid substitute. While I have not seen the form Why Not speaks of, I would assume that both parties have signed it. Consideration was provided in form of a stipend and/or waiver of tuition, etc. on the part of University A, while Why Not was to be given an education equivalent to (Masters or Ph.D.) and to provide reciprocal consideration as a Research or Teaching Assistant during his tenure as a student at University A. Both parties have official capacity to sign the contract, in that they represent either themselves or sign on behalf of the department/university. The legality of a document always concerns whether the parties have agreed to doing everything in a legal manner and does not involve doing anything to the detriment of either party. I was going to provide a link but couldn't get it to work. I had to sign a contract each year I was a master's student wherein I was given a stipend for my performing adequately both as a student and as a Graduate Assistant. There are also term limits in the contract as they cannot be open-ended. Although I was a GA both years, I was given a contract each year. I have signed both the offer letter and the accompanying detailed form for my Ph.D. program beginning in the fall, which together form a contract between me and the university.

Edit: P.S. I was a paralegal for almost 20 years prior to deciding to gain a Ph.D. so I do understand contract law and what comprises it.

Edited by cowgirlsdontcry

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On 5/19/2017 at 5:47 PM, cowgirlsdontcry said:

All states, except Louisiana, operate under common law and equity. The basic elements of a contract are mutual assent, consideration, capacity, and legality. In some states, the element of consideration can be satisfied by a valid substitute. While I have not seen the form Why Not speaks of, I would assume that both parties have signed it.

Seems like a problem. 

I do like how you've turned a resolution between graduate schools into a legal contract. 

 

On 5/19/2017 at 5:47 PM, cowgirlsdontcry said:

Consideration was provided in form of a stipend and/or waiver of tuition, etc. on the part of University A, while Why Not was to be given an education equivalent to (Masters or Ph.D.) and to provide reciprocal consideration as a Research or Teaching Assistant during his tenure as a student at University A. Both parties have official capacity to sign the contract, in that they represent either themselves or sign on behalf of the department/university.

LOL. 

 

On 5/19/2017 at 5:47 PM, cowgirlsdontcry said:

I had to sign a contract each year I was a master's student wherein I was given a stipend for my performing adequately both as a student and as a Graduate Assistant. There are also term limits in the contract as they cannot be open-ended. Although I was a GA both years, I was given a contract each year. I have signed both the offer letter and the accompanying detailed form for my Ph.D. program beginning in the fall, which together form a contract between me and the university.

Cool story. I signed a rental agreement once. It was awesome.

 

On 5/19/2017 at 5:47 PM, cowgirlsdontcry said:

Edit: P.S. I was a paralegal for almost 20 years prior to deciding to gain a Ph.D. so I do understand contract law and what comprises it.

That's cool. But you're neither a lawyer nor have you seen the offer letter. If the offer letter is anything like the bajillions of other assistanship offers, your signature indicates that you intend to accept the offer financial support and that you've read the terms and conditions of your support. I have never seen conditions from the CGS resolution incorporated into the terms and conditions of the award. Probably because they have no legal recourse if you stiff them and enroll elsewhere. The CGS resolution is usually linked to at the end of an offer letter to let you know how graduate schools (and the prospective) student are expected to conduct themselves.

Jeez. This stuff is dangerous. Don't hold yourself out as a legal expert if you aren't one.

 

OP: Contact school A and ask for a release. They will most likely grant it without a fuss.  

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